John Sullivan on Rock & Chips
Rock & Chips is advertised as the prequel to Only Fools and Horses, but it's much more than just a prequel. It's an opportunity to solve many mysteries, bury some lies and put a few ghosts to rest.
The first episode of OFAH ("Big Brother") was transmitted on 8th September, 1981 and within the first two minutes Del had evoked their late mother's memory to disarm Rodney. And captured there, in that little living room on the 12th floor of Nelson Mandela House, was the heart of the whole series which, although I wasn't to know at the time, was set to run for the next 22 years.
Del, Rodney and Grandad, representing the three ages of man, lived there in a state of almost-happy guerilla warfare and yet the most important person in the flat was never, ever seen; it was the spirit of Del's (and Rodney's) beloved mother Joan who had passed away 17 years before, and throughout the run of the series Del constantly referred to her and past events within the Trotter Family.
But much of his historical information was at best contradictory, and at worse outright lies. We were left with a situation where the only person who really knew what had happened was an unreliable witness, so I decided to return to those misty days of 1960 to meet all those characters we'd only ever heard about: Joan's husband (and Del's father) Reg Trotter. Was he really as horrible as Del always described him? The younger Grandad, what was he like back then? And what part did the villain Freddy Robdal play in the Trotters' lives?
We also get the chance to meet the teenage Del Boy, Boycie, Trigger, Denzil, Jumbo Mills, the already snidey Roy Slater, and Del's "bestest" friend, Albie Littlewood. It was round about 1960 that the teenagers of Great Britain invented sex and Del and the gang are enthusiastic supporters of this wonderful innovation - they see it as the future - and try to introduce every girl in the area to the new fashion.
This back-story to the Trotter saga and all its ghosts has been locked away somewhere in my mind for the last couple of decades and I thought it was about time I released them all and gave them their time in the sun. So on Sunday 24th January at 9pm on BBC One I hope you'll join them in 1960 and embark on a 50 year journey back to the truth.
Behind the Scenes: When Joan met Freddie